On 19 December 2019, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) published the following statement:
The IATA forecast that the global airline industry will produce a net profit of $29.3 billion in 2020, improved over a net profit of $25.9 billion expected in 2019 (revised downward from a $28 billion forecast in June). If achieved, 2020 will mark the industry's 11th consecutive year in the black.
By 3 February 2021, the full-year impact of COVID-19 showed demand falling 65.9% compared to 2019. The drop is most acute among Asia-Pacific airlines with full-year traffic plunging 80.3% in 2020.
At airports, passenger flow continues to be greatly affected due to COVID-19. Airports are currently adopting safety measures such as mobile check-in and health checks, but operations will soon include automated luggage drop-off and biometric solutions with integrated social distancing technologies. In the latter part of the year, as passenger numbers surge, touchless technologies will rise to prominence as tools to reduce bottlenecks and ensure traveller safety.
“Stakeholders must build a roadmap with airlines and airports and leverage tools that manage crowds, help passengers quickly find their way to terminals, and assist them on their flying journeys,” observed Jonathan Norman, lead consultant of airports and airlines at Frost & Sullivan.
He opined that touchless options will be key, and industry leaders will look to suppliers, vendors, and technologists to come up with viable solutions to help travellers feel safe.
“Total airport management and novel Solution-as-a-Service for airport operations will be particularly valuable solutions in the current environment,” continued Norman.
For real transformation, industry participants will have to:
- Upgrade to AI-based security systems to provide smarter, more agile and more automated data processing platforms.
- Incorporate touchless technologies such as temperature testing solutions or biometric authentication, for the safety of passengers and staff.
- Globalise the decision-making process.
- Drive the development of standardised procedures through collaboration with international associations such as WHO, ICAO, IATA, and ACI.
- Establish a coordinated response that includes real-time awareness of crowds, activities, and threats.
- Integrate systems to help detect underperforming processes and manage events.
- Optimise field operations through information-sharing.